A Disappointing Return visit after Renovations.
We visited this resort many times over the 16 years we have been vacationing in Mexico, going back to when our kids were little. It had for a time become one of our favorites, then it was time to refresh and we were there the day they closed the doors for complete renovation. We looked forward to going when complete. Finally after more than a year, it was reopening. So we exchanged via RCI into a 2 bedroom. We enjoyed our time and many aspects of the resort but there were also some very disappointing aspects as well.
Check in for RCI members is at Frist Club, way in back of resort, but no one at front desk knew this so utter confusion resulting in long delays after a long ride. We had even suggested that is how they used to do it, but no one would listen...anyway after much time it was figured out and we had to walk quite a distance to First Club, just seemed far due to being tired. We got there and had to wait there as well, it is a nice area with a bar, couches, jacuzzi, etc. and you can upgrade to use this area which includes 20 minutes of use of computers for only $15/p/d/p. We did not do that...We felt expensive for a small area, with minimal benfits..
They finally got us to a room after we had lunch and such about 3 ish. They put us in Rm. 660 & 658..., 2 bedroom lock off, but they tried to just give us a one bedroom, which did not make me happy at all. Not that we needed all that space since was large but it is the principal and what I paid for and exchanged for. They said well if you do not have other people coming, we told them totally irrelevant unless you are wiling to give us a discount or something so we got our 2 bedroom. Nice room but mini bars empty, coffee maker in one room dirty..cups with lipstick on sides, eww. no shampoo, soap etc, in bathrooms. Okay we figured no biggie we will just call...well after 2 or 3 calls and over 3 hours later they arrived to fix the problems..sounds like service not going to be so good or maybe just heavy check ins. We will see. We tried to pay for the All Inclusive upon check in at First Club but girl had no clue how to do that or how much, I showed her my RCI paperwork , she said oh just come back monday..okay.
The unit itself is rather nice, on Grand Royal Level, modern, new, 3 bathrooms, one with special showerhead, rainfall, hand held and spray outs, story on that later but looked good with a soaking tub to boot. Modern toilets. Hairdryer holders but no hairdryers...weird. ( They did put the hairdryers in the day before we were leaving, beter late thena never) Spacious unit...with lots of closet space and draws and full length mirrors. King size bed in master, 2 end tables, 2 closets and a safe in one, iron and ironing board, sliders onto small balcony with hot tub, will try that later..plasma tv's in bedroom and living room, even a computer and printer in room but have to pay high fees for internet so I used my laptop and internet stick instead. Living room had nice couch, chairs, table for 6, but that was sort of crowded in...mini kitchen area, with coffee maker,microwave, mini refrig., small sink, shelves, and 4 bottles of liquor, tequila, rum, scotch and vodka. Another bathroom off living room, smaller but nice. Then the lock off which had 2 twin beds...another coffee maker, safe,closets, and another bathroom..with a door that either closed shower or closet, or if you left open there was glass and you could take a shower and watch tv, hubby figured that out...crazy to me LOL. Well the room is nice so should be good despite a few glitches today.
We went to buffet for dinner and there had been quite a few changes there, newer, lighter furniture. Buffet area all new, totally changed. Clean as a whistle, special air things at entrance to keep out bugs etc..and UV lights for some health thing. The variety was also quite plentiful. They even had sugar free desserts. It was neat, clean and continually replaced. Service was timely and efficient and friendly. Drinks were good, not too strong nor too weak. After dinner we went to the new lounge, open air, quiet, comfy with couches, chairs, tables and bar. There is also the Palapa bar beachside, which has loud music and a disco of sorts for dancing and such. This new lounge area is where they used to put on the shows and also where they put on shows if raining...some nights they had entertainment for a bit, like Karoake etc. We liked the new lounge but did not care for the shows being outside in open area outside restaurant.
The pool remains on smaller size despite I belive being made bigger but for size of resort might be small in high season thought there is talk of an adult pool. There are palapas on the beach and lounge chairs and you get towel cards for your towels. There are also Cabanas on the beach but those are for Royal Club members, thought we were in those rooms it must be members. There is no service by pool or on beach you have to go to bar to get your own drinks.
The grounds are nice, mostly maintained though there were quite a few areas of broken , unkempt tiles etc..and concrete and at a newly refurbished resort uh huh. We also noted some areas about the resort where roofs and overhangs had not been fixed, the lounge is open air but sheetrocked, so if you know the climate in the tropics not gonna hold up long for that matter many places it was peeling, falling off and actual holes seen. The bathroom by the towel hut and also on opposite side of buffet restaurant always smelled of urine and many times toilets were actually leaking and they were not the newer model toilets.
The timeshare guys were at work and tried many times to get us to attend, we opted out, they were offering discounts on tours or massages. We told them we would consider attending for a discount on AI fees. They told us the timeshare presentation was for our benefit not theirs and we would want what they had, we smiled said have a great day, no way Jose! They asked us everyday but as the days went we had more issues so we were not a tad interested.
They have two a la carte restaurants, and you could attend both but with reservations and would be possible to go more than once but we also opted out of that. Los Olivios, the Italian Restaurant has been remarakably changed over, it now has indoor and outdoor seating, nice ambiance and decent food. The service for us was just fine but we did hear complaints of some others going one night and it being very short staffed. We enjoyed our night at Los Olivios, despite no top shelf alcohol, only national drinks, no martinis...oh well..Then there is the Mexican a la carte, Las Haciendas, it is open air over by palapa bar where they also have the disco and nightly snacks like fries, hamburgs etc... The decor is similar to before, menu sounds good, lot of Mexican choices but alas, I had a dish that was in a mocajate, arrechera tacos but oh my so very dry and not very flavorful. The mocajate concept for serving dish would be only appeal for most. Hubby's meal was just so so as well. Service was just fine. We decided thought that the best was the Italian then the buffet. All in all for the price of the AI, the food was good, plentiful, much variety, clean, well presented, well maintained buffet and worth the cost.
The beach was long, hard , packed sand, water temp. warm, waves varied...very nice clean beach. Venders yes, but not aggressive and they also have on site areas if you wish to just go there and shop on the beach. With a little bargaining, prices were good.
There is an onsite store for things you may have forgotten or need aspirin,sunblock, pepto etc..also some snack foods and also souveniours. Prices reflective of resorts. Across the street, easily walkable is a mall Paradise Village Mall where there are lots of restaurants, fast food places, shopping, a play area for kiddies, and even a small grocery store with pricey items but many desirable imported things. We spent some time at this mall, met up with some friends, chatted and had ice cream, from of all places McDonalds, which was great, soft serve and closest to me is over an hour. It was fun to meet with friends and spend some time. We had wanted to go to the crocodile reserve for lunch, Crocodilario, but it was closed, so hoping it will be open in Jan. when we return. I actually did some "me" shopping this trip. I broke down and bought some clothes in my current size, bigger than I was which I said I was not doing but so be it. I also bought some wedge heels. I love heels but have not walked in them since breaking my hip but the wedge style seems more secure for me, so I went for it. All hubby's treat, what a guy! All this shoping was done either in town in Puerto Vallarta or at Paradise Mall.
Our disappointment came with many issues in the room along with service. Any service you needed for room, ice, mini bar, towles, etc...the service was either incredibly slow ( like hours) or non-existent. The same issues would occur day after day. One day we were told they could not bring ice to us as they had a lot of check in's, so it might be a few hours. We said we would get it ourself, oh no, you just have to wait...forget it we went down to bar.
The minbar was rearely stocked, no one told us, but in writing this review apparently it is only every other day, even then we did not get that. We had to call and wait and wait for 3 sodas and 4 waters, the 2 existing beers stayed there all week. Seems like no biggie till you are wanting to nap or what have you but you are waiting for someone. Frustrating.
The Master bath with the awesome shower thing...ugh...not enough water pressure for it to even work, all that worked was the overhead shower...crazy what a waste. The other showers were different and worked okay water pressure wise but..use extremem caution. I almost fell the first shower as without you realizing the showers leak a lot, like enough to fill bathroom floor and head under door out into hallway...why? They have glass enclosures which are not abutted at all, gaps of at least 1/4 inch everywhere. So after this we laid towels down and took as fast a shower as possible. Told front desk but not very interested or concerned. One night we prepared to use the outdoor hot tub, hahah...no faucets...no water in it..hubby being a master plumber removed panel and found inlets and outlets for water underneath but again so little water pressure you might be there a few days filling it so we abandoned that idea. Unless you knew plumbing you would not even know how to go about this...another waste. Anything we told them about, that was an issue such as the showers, hot tub, minibar, etc. they just could have cared less. So service is a real low point here unless in restaurant or bar. There remains many areas that need refinement or refurbishing depite the recent overhaul. I am happy I am not an owner there as I would be upset with the poor service and also the room issues. Huuby states he is not going back, too many other resorts to go to, I would return but maybe just with girls for an inexpensive AI exchange.
The highlight of our trip actually was an on site thing. Vallarta Adventures has a person on site doing photo shoots with no obligation. We walked by so many times uninterested until one day they were going around with a baby crocodile and hubby wanted to hold it, so yes pictures. Later we went to see Ivan the photographer and said we would want those photos, 8 of them on a CD and also some printed ones as our grandson has a fascination with crocodiles, so to see his grandparents holding one would be awesome. After much conversation, we decided to do the no obligation photo shoot. We met Ivan at 9:30 am, we did not want sunset pictures...well what fun we had...posing, having fun, laughs etc....it was the best. Ivan took hundreds of photos but yet seemed like so few as we had such fun..we ended up so impressed with his personality and ability to get us to pose, laugh, be serious etc...and his ability as a photographer, that we purchased a package and he was prepared with many options. We are now the proud and happy owners of a website with our pictures...a couple of DVD's with our favorite pics., some printed pics, the croc pics and DVD's, and a hard cover photo book with our 20 favorite photos. We made memories of a lifetime with this and we also make a new friend. Now we would like to do something like this when the family comes, 3 generations...that would be so neat, but I would want it to be at my favorite resort or my second favorite ( or both) so will have to work on that.
So in synopsis, the resort is renewed with some things left to do, some service issues to work out and some major bathroom issues to deal with. Service for me is what makes me return to a resort,along with spacious nice rooms even if dated. These rooms were not dated, quite nice if only everything functioned. Clean, yes everything was clean no doubt. The food a huge update for buffet and Italian Restaurant very nice. The beach is nice. The area is very convenient and nice area. For the price this is a decent exchange thru RCI, and well worth the AI fees which are quite low. Nothing top quality but tasty, pleasently presented food etc. There is nowhere there with free wifi, so you must pay fees or do the First Club, an upgrade to use computers in that area for short periods. Confusion between hotel and timeshare owners seems to be a problem that existed before and continues. Timeshare units by the way do have balconies, unlike hotel units. So I think a 3 or 3.5 rating, nice new rooms but many nonfunctioning things, good beach, decent food, clean and well presented, good service in restaurants and bars, but in room not good. Check in and out long process with much confusion. All in all an okay week vacation stay. One nice touch is despite room upgrades and such, the resort has kept some old fell Mexican charm.